Jerry Uelsmann, one of America’s most important contemporary photographers, is known throughout the world for his dream-like scenes. Sometimes referred to as “the master of photomontage,” his creations involve hand printing of multiple negatives onto single sheets of paper.
For nearly a half-century now, Jerry Uelsmann has created an exquisitely detailed universe of his own devising, and allowed it to materialize gracefully onto gelatin silver paper. This exhibition will offer a fresh look at Jerry’s complex theater of the mind.
Photographer Ted Orland – the exhibition curator and longtime friend of Uelsmann and his wife, Maggie Taylor – has assembled 55 images that he says “resonate with Jerry’s personality, his work ethic, his way of living and his philosophy.” Orland examined over a thousand original prints. His selections concentrate on “the emotional content of the work, images that convey a sense of tranquility, a softness that has endured through the process of creation.”
“Standing next to Jerry in the darkroom, I witnessed how he starts with a seed of an idea and then lets pieces and parts come together and evolve over the course of perhaps ten to twelve prints,” relates Orland. “It’s a process of give and take, letting something happen and then letting it suggest where it might go next.”
According to Orland, “The richness and depth of Uelsmann’s work derives in no small measure from its remarkable internal consistency, allowing images the artist made a half-century ago to fit seamlessly alongside those he created in his darkroom last week. The recurring icons and forces at play in his universe have, over time, become our guides – at different times mysterious or prophetic, playful or ominous, but ultimately benign. Jerry Uelsmann has created a universe complete unto itself, such that if someone were to ask, ‘But was it really like that? ‘ the only logical answer would be, ‘It is now.’ ”
In this exhibit, Orland hopes to capture the humanity involved in creating Uelsmann’s world – a reflection of a life well-lived, with many friends, many travels, a home chocked with memorabilia and stories to go with every piece.
And so as counterpoint to the finished art on display, the exhibit will also include informal snapshots of Uelsmann at work (and play) in his darkroom and studio, as captured by Orland and CPA Trustee Rex Naden during their visit.